Changing your Gender Marker on your Birth Certificate in New Jersey

The New Jersey lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) community faces a number of potential challenges that other communities do not have to deal with.  In addition to prejudice, legal conundrums and gray areas unfortunately exist.  As of 2015, same-sex marriages are recognized in New Jersey and across the county.  Although many of the past issues and questions facing the LGBT community have been resolved with the ability to get married, issues nonetheless remain.

For example, under the current state of law in New Jersey, transgender individuals are not able to change their gender marker on their birth certificates without having undergone full sexual reassignment surgery.  Surgical transition, however, requires costly medical procedures that are not usually covered by health insurance.  This requirement, in turn, creates barriers for both middle and lower-income transgender individuals.  Moreover, aside from the prohibitive costs associated with surgery, there are several other reasons why transgender individuals elect not to have surgery.  In fact, almost two-third of transgender individuals do not undergo reassignment surgery.

Beyond the inherent value of having one’s birth certificate correspond to their identity, transgender people need to change the gender marker on their birth certificate for many other critical reasons.  Thus, as it currently stands, New Jersey’s birth certificate law not only creates undue hardships on transgender individuals, but it is also outdated, ineffective, and in need of modernization.

Legislation has been introduced to update this law.  Bill A4097 proposed that, instead of requiring full reassignment surgery, transgender individuals would simply have to provide a medical certificate from a licensed health care provider who certifies that they have evaluated the transgender individual and that the individual has received “appropriate clinical treatment” for the gender transition from a licensed medical professional.  Although the bill overwhelming passed in both houses, citing to “legal uncertainties” along with concerns over security, Governor Chris Christie vetoed this bill both times it was introduced.

Currently, eight states in addition to the District of Columbia have passed legislation eliminating the requirement that transgender men and women must undergo sexual reassignement surgery before amending their birth certificates.  With time, we hope that New Jersey will likewise follow suit by updating this law to be more inclusive and reflective of the current state of our society.  In the meantime, we will continue to track any future proposed legislation on this issue.

Although transgender individuals living in New Jersey are currently not able to change their gender markers on their birth certificates, they are able to apply for a name change with a New Jersey Superior Court.  An individual in New Jersey may change their name to whatever name they choose, for any reason, so long as the name change is not for an illegal or fraudulent purpose.

After undergoing a legal name change, which does require a court appearance, transgender individuals will be able to change their names on all of their identification documents, including their birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s licenses and passports.  For more information about changing your name and/or gender markers on you various identification documents, please see on prior Blog on Name Changes and Gender Markers Changes for Transgender Individuals

The attorneys at theWolf Law are committed to serving the needs of New Jersey’s LGBT community.  We are well-versed in the laws regarding transgender name and gender marker changes.  In addition, our firm also specializes in various civil trial work and criminal matters in the Superior Court and criminal and motor vehicle offenses in Municipal Courts.  Please contact us today at 732-741-4448 for a free consultation.